High level competition is demanding on both horse and rider and inevitably over time takes its toll in injury and wear and tear; this said, with careful professional support it is possible to maintain an athlete in work and overcome these obstacles to complete a full career.

Discussion of diminished performance with your farrier may reveal uneven shoe wear, a distorted hoof or less flexibility. Conformation determines gait, which affects shoe/hoof wear, which in turn dictates the hoof trimming and shoeing strategy. Shoe wear highlights amongst other things balance or imbalance, and impaired flexion.

The farrier will trim and shoe to achieve level foot fall, with a central base for the loaded limb. The vet is often not consulted until the horse is lame, when specific areas may be x-rayed for bone changes and to identify foot/limb imbalance.

Lateral rotation of one or more joints of the limb commonly from the knee, is a common problem recognised by seeing it move outward when flexed. As the foot lands it makes ground contact on the lateral side first, then loads the inside heel quarter, when going through the weight bearing stage of the stride. This conformation may not be obvious when the horse is standing. The shoe wear will be heavier on the outside and toe quarter.

Horse with hoof imbalance
Hoof imbalance

The long term effect of this oscillation and uneven loading of the limb manifest first in bruising and poor horn growth of the inside heel quarter, due to heightened concussion and weight focus. The joints of the digit are next to suffer.

The coffin joint taking the brunt of this sideways nutcracker effect, as the normal lateral elastic mobility of the joints in young horses, gradually reduces – particularly where there is some degree of deviation in the limb which, transferred to the foot, is likely to induce uneven loading and hoof imbalance. Reduced flexion of any of the joints can appear, before any physical evidence of arthritis.

Heel quarter rebuilding with Imprint Hoof Repair.
Heel quarter rebuilding with Imprint Hoof Repair.

The degree each horse is affected will vary depending on conformation and work load; concussive roadwork is totally unyielding, so the feet will take the full force. The farrier will not ‘correct’ this conformation or try to force the horse to move in a new way, rather he or she will accommodate the gait by trimming and shoeing, so that a stride can be made efficiently in a balanced manner.

Hoof imbalance resolved with Imprint Sport shoe.
Hoof imbalance resolved with Imprint Sport shoe.

Imprint products are prescribed by vets and applied by farriers for the treatment of a vast range of lameness issues including the following conditions…

Collapsed under run heels


Medio Lateral  imbalance

Broken back/ forward hoof pastern axis (HPA)

Thin walls

Poor quality diseased horn

Broken undermined hoof walls

Hoof cracks/instability

Flat feet

Hypersensitivity to nailing

Resistance to “hard going”

Palmer/caudle foot pain

Pedal bone fractures


Navicular syndrome

Side bone

Ring bone



White line disease